Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley, has dismissed dyslexia as a myth invented to cover up for poor teaching. His claim brings to mind a claim reported a few years ago along the same lines made by Durham’s Julian Elliott.
I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of the way in which the story is reported – but I don’t see why it has to be an all-or-nothing matter. It’s possible that some dyslexia is overplayed or mis-ascribed, but not all. It’s an interesting one to consider, though – the obvious response to a disability is to think that it would be better not to have it. But if it’s correct that, at least sometimes, there’s an incentive to claim dyslexia, then it might appear that here’s one kind of disability with which people actually might want to be associated.
Or, to put it another way: is dyslexia a disability if there’s an incentive to claim it? Comments and suggestions more than welcome.
In the meantime, I propose a new piece of jargon. Economists have the term “Giffen good” to describe those products that violate the law of demand, and for which demand rises with price. My new term is “Giffen state” to describe a disability or medical condition that people actually might (at least sometimes) want. If Stringer and Elliott are right, dyslexia might be a Giffen state. Oliver Sacks talks in his essay “Cupid’s Disease” of the desirable effects of mild syphilis – this might also be a Giffen state. I wonder how many of these there are – or what mistake I’ve made. Do tell…